Navigating Social Media in the Next Normal with Advice from Facebook’s Nona Jones
Thanks for tuning in to this week’s episode of the unSeminary podcast. In June we helped cohost The Next Normal Conference with our friends at Leadership Network and Church Communications in order to inspire church leaders and spur collaboration between their teams about where we are all heading next. Today we’re bringing you a re-broadcast from that conference with Kenny Jahng interviewing Nona Jones, the Head of Global Faith-Based Partnerships for Facebook.
- Develop a digital presence. // More than 80% of Americans have a Facebook account and are active on it, so it makes sense for churches to be there too. Even in spite of these facts, many pastors have been hesitant to have social media accounts. In a way, this season is forcing churches to play catch-up as they realize the importance of having a digital presence and developing these connections and relationships online. Understand that people have robust lives on social media. Be present whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram or another place your community is active.
- Create engaging content. // As a company Facebook is always asking: How do we make digital connections and relationships meaningful to people? Look for ways to use Facebook’s tools to capture more people’s attention as well as develop more online connections and communities. This will enable you to minister to more people more effectively. Practically speaking this looks like treating your online service differently than you would if people were in your building. For example, get rid of your countdown timer. The average attention span on Facebook is three seconds and if people scrolling by see a countdown clock, they will move on. It doesn’t serve the same function as it would if people were physically in your building. Make your content super-engaging and super hard-hitting so that people immediately feel as though it’s something relevant to them.
- Interact with your audience. // Whether you are doing a livestream on Facebook or posting content throughout the week, make sure you are engaging people. Respond to people’s comments and questions. Welcome them when a service is streamed. Tag them in comments. You want people to feel like they are actually a part of the experience. Rememeber that broadcast media has a passive message going out to a passive audience, but social media is an active message going out to an active community.
- Creatively use the tools available. // More and more people are gathering and participating online for bible studies and church services. It’s not uncommon for four or five times the number of people that would attend your church to watch your livestream. Facebook Groups can offer opportunities for engagement that are harder to do at a church building, for example 24-hour prayer. Use the tools that Facebook provides to get creative with how you can serve your people. Even Facebook Live provides an opportunity for people to access their pastors as authentic individuals, rather than just see who they are in a pulpit.
- Refocus your efforts online. // It takes effort to create social media content so work to repurpose the resources you already have. Where you were previously focused on in-person ministry, now think about how you can offer the same level of connection and engagement digitally. Literally think outside the “box” of your building. It’s not about replicating what others are doing. Rather take a step back, figure out what your goals are and what experience you want people to have, and then use the digital tools available to bring forth that vision.
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